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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Panel reviews a changing world climate

    A U.N.-organized panel released a summary Friday aimed at policymakers about how climate change is affecting the planet.

    The summary was published by the International Panel on Climate Change, a group established by the World Meteorological Association and the United Nations Environmental Programme in 1988 to study climate change.

    The study examines “”current scientific understanding of impacts of climate change on natural, managed and human systems, (and) the capacity of these systems to adapt and their vulnerability,”” according to the report.

    UA professors and researchers have played a role in writing and reviewing previous documents released by the IPCC, as well as conducting research in the field.

    The Feb. 2 report discussed how climate has changed in the past because of human activity and projected how it could change over the next 1,500 years. The report released Friday is about the consequences these changes will have on the environment and society, said Travis Huxman, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the UA.

    The desert Southwest has already seen some of the effects of climate change, Huxman said.

    “”The most recent report says that we have seen some change in climate, and we’re seeing some ecological response to that change in climate,”” Huxman said. “”A couple of those things being things like change in the length of the growing season, change in the number of forest fires in the western United States and changes in things like non-native species invasions.””

    “”Those (non-native) grasses promote wildfire in regions that are not fire-adaptable,”” he added. “”So the thing we can expect is an acceleration of that fire cycle.””

    Other effects of climate change that will influence different regions of the world were also detailed in the report.

    Particularly important to Arizona is the accelerated evaporation of snow packs, which can lead to a reduction of water runoff to rivers, said Kathy Jacobs, director of the Arizona Water Institute and UA professor of soil, water and environmental science, who reviewed portions of the report.

    “”The impacts on the Colorado River are estimated to range from 10 to 30 percent reduction over the next 100 years,”” Jacobs said.

    Policymakers, at whom the report was aimed, are beginning to take notice of the findings.

    “”I was at a meeting sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva (Friday) morning on the topic of climate change, and he’s specifically connecting these reports to legislation in Congress,”” Jacobs said.

    Others are also taking notice of the IPCC’s reports.

    “”The news in the last five weeks has shown that the public and the Congress and the government are ready to do something,”” Huxman said. “”I’m very optimistic that we will actually figure out how to solve some of these environmental challenges.””

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